The first weekend of a new month, and indeed new year, so lets reflect on December 2018 in our Monthly ‘Rewind’ editorial with Mike Watkins as he looks back over the good, the bad and the ugly of showbiz and television.


Another BBC brand bites the dust

After nearly 50 years Film… is another of the long-running Beeb heritage brands to be consigned to the dustbin of television along with other favourites such as Grandstand, Top of the Pops and Sportsnight.

The series which is best remembered for its years hosted by the late Barry Norman ‘and why not’ will not return for Film 2019 the corporation have announced as they look for new ways to provide movie reviews.

“In 2019 we will be creating an enhanced offer for lovers of film both on television and online which will be a more consistent approach across the year and will replace the Film Show. We’re still working through the details and will have more news about what this will look like soon. Those interested in film can also watch and listen to other film-programming across the BBC.” – BBC spokesperson

The series began as Film ’71 in 1971 fronted by Barry Norman, who stayed with the series for twenty-six years including in 1991 selling the virtues of the BBC from the Film ’91 set in a special trailer for TV licencing. However, by 1997 Norman, who had also been a regular newspaper film and television critic, was lured over to Sky to host a rival show with Film’ 98 being his last series in the job. Jonathan Ross slipped into Barry’s chair and carried on the critiques for a further 11 years before handing over the series to Claudia Winkleman. The past two years have seen the show without a regular host, guest presenters have instead been invited to partake in analysis and assessment of movies.

The series was spoofed by shows such as Spitting Image on ITV – voiced by Chris Barrie and Rory Bremner over on Channel 4. Barry Norman passed away in 2017 aged 83.

Barry Norman, everyone’s favourite knitwear wearing movie reviewer, seen here on BBC One’s Film ’92.

Strictly Come Dancing’s professional performer AJ Pritchard and his brother Curtis – who features as a pro dancer on RTÉ’s Dancing with the Stars, were attacked on a night-out. While this doesn’t affect AJ’s work on the BBC One series – due to it ending earlier this month – the RTÉ version of the show begins next month, with it now confirmed due to his injuries Curtis won’t be able to appear for the 2019 run.

The brothers were set-upon at around 2am on December 27th in Nantwich. A police statement noted:

“Shortly after 2am on Thursday 27 December officers were called to reports of an incident at a night club on Welsh Row, Nantwich. Officers attended the scene and found that four men, three aged 22 and one aged 24, had been assaulted. The victims sustained a number of injuries as a result of the incident and were taken to Leighton Hospital for treatment. All of the men have since been discharged. Enquiries in relation to the incident are ongoing and officers have arrested a 20-year-old man from Crewe on suspicion of assault; he has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.”

RTÉ note that ‘AJ and Curtis were assaulted whilst on a night-out with two friends … in an unprovoked attack in Nantwich, Cheshire. Curtis is due to undergo an emergency operation in the next few days to correct the damages he has sustained to his knee, he is also recovering from injuries to his eye and face. AJ received bruising to his face, arms, body and legs.’


ITV gives artists a chance to create on-screen identity

“Our current channel idents have been running for almost 6 years and whilst they have served us well, 2019 felt like the right moment for a change.  We think this new approach is fresh, distinctive and brings to life the energy and creativity at the heart of ITV. But above all else, we simply hope that viewers will enjoy this ever-changing look as they tune-in for their favourite programmes each week.” – ITV Director of Viewer Marketing Paul Ridsdale

The new on-screen identity for the ITV main channel – excluding STV – will arrive in January thanks to a new year-long project entitled ITV Creates. From the first day of 2019 the on-screen idents will change every week, in a project that is intended to emphasise and reflect the creativity at the heart of the broadcaster’s business. For each week of the year, a different artist will create a piece of work, which is their expression of the ITV logo. This will then be filmed and produced into a set of idents by ITV’s in-house creative agency, ITV Creative.

The brief for the artists described how the project is intended to highlight ITV’s commitment to endless creativity, with an idea that would see their on-screen identity constantly reinvented, entertaining the audience and giving a platform to UK based creative talent. The first eight artists who have created idents for ITV that will air in the first eight weeks of 2019 are Ravi Deepres, Sutapa Biswas, James Brunt, Patricia Volk, Mark Titchner, Katrina Russell Adams, Kristina Veasey and James Alec Hardy.
ITV main channel’s on screen presentation is changing too, as the ITV brand identity evolves to emphasise the creative credentials of the broadcaster. From January, viewers will see a more ‘crafted’ on-screen identity with a cut out logo being used on promos with three different layers to it. ITV began as Independent TeleVision in September 1955 with Associated-Rediffusion and ATV London the first ITV brands to go on-air. The regional company names ceased to be used on-screen across the ITV regions from January 2003.

The ITV logo isn’t changing, but how we see it on the main ITV channel in England, Northern Ireland and Wales is.

Comedian Billy Connolly to retire from live stand-up performances

Glasgow comedy legend Billy Connolly has announced he’ll be working a little less, and hopefully enjoying life a lot more in the coming years. The 76-year-old, who has been living with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease spoke to the Radio Times recently and during the conversation noted that his touring days were behind him with his retirement from live performance.

The Glaswegian also claimed serious poor health reports by the press were exaggerated. Connolly announced he was diagnosed with degenerative condition in 2013 and also had successful treatment for prostate cancer in the same year. Billy, who also performed the theme tune to Tyne Tees children’s series Supergran, said his illness was now manageable, and he is cared for by his former actress wife Pamela Stephenson.


Mel B had vaginal surgery to rid her body of Stephen Belafonte

No it’s not April, you’ve not slept three months. This is apparently a true tale from the world of ex-Spice Girls, soon to be re-booted mid-life Spice Girls. Speaking to a podcast she enthused about her fanny rejuvenation.

“I didn’t really need a rejuvenation so I didn’t get that done, but the procedure is very similar to what a woman would get done. What I did was a bit like, and I say this very candily but it’s actually very important, a bit like a rape victim. When you’ve been raped, you wanna scrub any remnants off your body, inside outside, of that person, so you can just erase it.’

The Loose Women regular told the Table Manners podcast that she ‘went to Dr Matlock and I said, I don’t want to feel like the last person that was inside my vagina was this monster.’
“He examined me, he said “legally there’s nothing I can do about that because you don’t need anything done”. I said could he just go in there and get everything out, but then pack it with fresh tissue…most women they get that done because they want to be smaller, but I just wanted to be new and clean.”

Sometimes there just are no words.


“Did anyone else see that big purple dildo on the top shelf in the shower?”

A question posed earlier this month about a scene in EastEnders. It was in the Slaters house, so highly likely Kat would enjoy a bit of battery-powered love. After all Alfie’s knob has been up Coleen Nolan and even weeks of bleach ain’t gonna make that any less of a horrid thought.

‘Although it is most likely that the object was simply a can of deodorant’ said The Sun, spoiling everyone’s fun. A rare thing for that tabloid to do I hear you cry, in irony

Ah and to think back in the 1980s we all loved watching EastEnders for the adventures of Ethel and her little Willy. These days they wouldn’t allow it.


Doctor Who to return with new series in 2020

Following this year’s series, we’ll have to wait a whole year for another full run of Doctor Who episodes the BBC have confirmed. The twelth series in the rebooted science-fiction hit will carry on the new era for Doctor Who with Showrunner, Chris Chibnall, remaining in charge of the TARDIS. Jodie Whittaker will continue as the Thirteenth Doctor and will be once again be joined by Bradley Walsh (Graham), Mandip Gill (Yasmin) and Tosin Cole (Ryan).

In this years’ episodes viewers saw the Doctor and her friends travel through space and time on adventures fighting monsters and conquering battles. So far, from the first eight episodes, series 11 of Doctor Who has averaged a 4-screen consolidated audience of 8.4m.

Jodie’s first episode as the Doctor launched with a consolidated audience of 11 million making it the second biggest drama this year across all channels, while also placing it among the top 10 programmes in 2018 so far across all channels and genres. The episode received 3.7 million requests through BBC iPlayer.

No new Who series in 2019.

Rewind Quickies

>Dancing on Ice 2019 contestant Gemma Collins – from the reality-drama toss TOWIE – threw a diva-style (brat) fit over the choice of song she’d be skating to on episode one, which airs later tonight. Out of many comments posted on social media about this incident the best to describe the situation was ‘If you want to indulge in diva behaviour, you need to back it up with talent. Trying to be the next Whitney Huston without the voice is just cheap’. Or as I look at it, if you’re trying to be the next Miss Piggy it takes more than being fat…

>Dinner with Derbyshire. Russell Hayward had dinner with Coronation Street legend Eileen Derbyshire earlier this month. Now that might seem not much of a story if you don’t know much about Russell or Eileen. Fans of Corrie will know that Eileen hasn’t been seen since she quit the soap a couple of years ago, so they’re thrilled to see how great she’s looking away from the Emily Bishop costumes while Russell continues to carry on the Corrie love shared by his late partner Martyn Hett. Martyn was tragically murdered at the Manchester arena bombing. The pair met up on what would have been Martyn’s 31st birthday for a meal in his memory.

>Coleen Nolan returned to Loose Women after the allegations of bullying by the programme saw her take time out. While ITV’s handling of the whole thing has been diabolical it is right now that a line is drawn under the issue and everyone moves forward, hopefully learning from the mistakes made. Personally you have to admire Coleen for returning in the first place; here you have a broadcaster whose management decided to leave her to fend for herself, not make any moves to explain the reasoning for the edition that saw two Nolans against one Kim Woodburn, nor any public attempt to stem the outrage. You have to admire the forgiveness involved, either that or she needs the money. ITV Daytime is certainly not a company I’d be keen to work for if that is how they believe they should ‘care’ for their talent. BTW I’ve found a perfect gift for the bosses of daytime at the network, Jane Beacon and Clare Ely – its a bucket of sand, which will be much eaiser to bury your heads in in future.

>Now what is as bland as the ITV Daytime schedules that rarely change year-in, year-out? Hmm. No I can’t think of anything so let’s take a look at a story about Anthea Turner, the former face of one of ITV Daytime’s biggest shows, GMTV. A tabloid reported, so we can’t take it as the entire truth, that Turner has stopped speaking with her sister Wendy after she allegedly had to pay off her £5,000 debts. Wendy is married to actor Gary Webster who is famous for his role in Minder as ‘the one who replaced Dennis Waterman’.

>This story in is ‘quickies’ as were so I don’t use a headline such as ‘Shakira tax cheek-ira’. That would be just too bad, even for ATV Today. RTÉ report how the Colombian singer Shakira has been charged with tax evasion by prosecutors in Spain. The 41-year-old singer is alleged to have avoided €14.5m in tax by claiming that she lived in the Bahamas when she actually resided in Catalonia, Spain. Spanish legals have yet to decide whether to proceed with court action. If it does of course go to such a stage they just need ask her hips what the truth is, as apparently, they don’t lie…

Media Movers: This month it was announced that Moria Stewart is moving from BBC Radio 2 to Classic FM where she will present news programming and a music show. Jennie Cook, George Taylor and Dominic Main will join BBC Scotland as the channel’s announcers, Absolute Radio’s programme manager Dave Masterman has announced he’s to leave the role next year, BBC Three has hired Hannah Price as editorial assistant while the channel has taken on Cassie Smyth as a social media executive. Fiona Bruce has been confirmed as host of BBC Question Time. Tom Green and Daisy Maskell are to join Kiss FM while Andy Crane will be part of the new look GHR station.

Also this month it was announced Sky News has hired Inzy Rashid as a correspondent, STV has appointed Sasha Spratt as presenting production journalist joining the broadcaster from Local TV service London Live. In further changes at BBC Three Fiona Campbell will become digital controller for the channel next month, over at ITV Good Morning Britain has appointed Emma Williams as entertainment producer and Sky News has chosen Rob Powell as Westminster political reporter. And finally Louise Rainbow is stepping down from Strictly Come Dancing as Executive Producer, she will be replaced by series editor Sarah James.

Where ITV Daytime bosses stick their heads instead of dealing publically with issues.

Tonight marks 20 years on ITV

Tonight originally fronted by Sir Trevor McDonald will be twenty-years old in 2019. Yes its two decades since ITV mucked up their schedules, dropped the long-running flagship investigative series World In Action, ratings-winner News at Ten and gave us News at When and terrible programmes in the 10pm which thankfully none of us can recall.

However, out of the shambles came Tonight. While not a patch on World In Action it has become an award winning series in its own right. ITV Studio’s company Shiver will produce 30 episodes for ITV in 2019, with the first programme scheduled to air on Thursday 3rd January. Made by a dedicated team based at the label’s MediaCityUK base in Salford, this new run also sees series producer, Laura Caveney-Morgan, stepping up to become the show’s series editor.

Tonight, presented by Julie Etchingham, reaches its two-decade milestone in April and is the most-watched current affairs show on TV, having seen year-on-year audience growth in 2018, averaging 2.7m viewers and gaining its highest share since 2007. In March, it also gained its biggest audience since May 2014 when 4.6m viewers tuned in to watch Snowstorm: Britain’s Big Chill.

During its 20 years on the air, Tonight has featured interviews with a host of political and public figures, from former U.S. President, George W. Bush to Tony Blair, Michael Jackson to Naomi Campbell. From 1999-2007, the programme was known as Tonight with Trevor McDonald, while it has featured a wide range of reporters over the years, including Martin Lewis, Ranvir Singh, Martin Bashir and Helen Skelton.  But who remembers the earlier series, Tonight with Richard and Judy? Simliar name but that was a chat show. No one? Oh well…

Julie Etchingham

What’s Happening With Katie Price This Month?

Price has moved Kris Boyson into her, as The Sun describes it, ‘messy mansion’. The move comes ‘as the pair prepare to walk down the aisle next year,’. You have to give the girl credit, even if the banks won’t, shes a one for not giving up. Dusts herself down, finds another bloke and goes through it all again. Its just handy those reality TV cameras are often around to capture the eventful life of the glamerous mother.

“Kris has already moved in full time – it’s going really well and they’re so loved up. She wanted him around after all the support he’s given her through the bankruptcy case. She was really relieved she had him around for Christmas, and they’re even talking about getting married again.” – A close source to Price speaking to The Sun.


Quote of the Month

Loose Women might pretend to be the ‘caring’ programme, but while we’re self confessed ‘say it like it is’ we do also have a real caring side. So this month we turn to Caroline Flack who recently discussed her battle with depression with a tabloid newspaper. She revealed to The Sun that her “lowest point” came in 2016 thanks to gong show The BAFTAs. Hosted by comedian and presenter Graham Norton, a reference was made about the likelihood of her returning as a presenter on ITV’s The X Factor.

Norton joked that viewers could get better odds on the executed Anne Boleyn returning to the second series of BBC Two historical drama Wolf Hall than Flack being re-hired for the singing series.

“I was sitting there in my dress, I didn’t have a plus one, and Graham’s first joke was basically, ‘There’s more chance of Anne Boleyn returning to Wolf Hall‘. I’m sure it was quite funny but not so much when you’re the person living that life, sat in the BAFTAs and the cameras are on you. I remember the person next to me touching my arm in sympathy and just trying not to cry. I went home pretty much straight after. It was really horrible and my lowest point.” – Caroline Flack

It’s not the first time Norton has offended a celebrity, just before the death of Maurice Gibb, of the BeeGees, in 2003 he cracked a joke which may have been said across the country, but it didn’t seem fitting on TV. The chat show host made reference to Gibb’s life-support machine making the tune of ‘Staying Alive‘. The remaining two Gibb brothers were so annoyed threats of punching Norton were banded about.


The Luminaries welcome more cast to production

Himesh Patel and Australia’s Ewen Leslie will play Emery Staines and Crosbie Wells. They will star alongside the previously announced Eve Hewson as Anna Wetherall, Eva Green as Lydia Wells and Marton Csokas as Francis Carver.

The Luminaries tells an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women travelled across the world to make their fortunes. It is a 19th-century tale of adventure and mystery, set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush. The story follows defiant young adventurer Anna Wetherell, who has sailed from Britain to New Zealand to begin a new life.

The six-part series will air on BBC Two in the UK next year.


Documentary to look at the Tyne and Wear Metro

I’m amazed that Nexus, the government-owned travel operator in the North East, is allowing this to be even made. But then I’m not surprised as it is likely to overlook all the appalling issues with this so-called transport service.

Let me tell you something. Back in 2014, I moved location because the trams were so poor at being to time and I was, like my boss, sick of being late for work due to them. Yes indeed leaving early and all that, but when you’ve got a 12 hour shift ahead of you added an extra 90 minutes before it just to make sure you’re an hour early for work isn’t the greatest thing. So I will personally watch with bated breath to see how this Metro documentary comes across.

The series is to be produced by a Lime Pictures backed indie entitled Wise Owl Films. Lime Pictures, of course, produce Hollyoaks for Channel 4 and in their former guise as Mersey Television gave us Brookside.

The Metro is the second largest light railway system outside London and attempts to transport 36 million passengers per year. Recent spends have seen stations renovated before investing in new trains; which seem to have a daily fail. The trams date back to the 1970s, and by my own experience, seem to think they’re on a four-day 1970s working week.

Metro: The transport lottery, will you make it on time? It’s a daily gamble not likely to be seen on ITV.

Oh Baby!

Before the monthly reflection on departures, its sometimes nice to also rejoyce in the circle of life. Firstly Alex Bain has become a dad. The Coronation Street actor who plays ‘troubled’ teenager Simon Barlow has had a daughter with high school girlfriend Levi Selby. They’ve named the child Lydia-Rose. Which is a nice proper sweet name. Also, BBC One’s The One Show presenter Alex Jones has revealed to viewers she’s pregnant with baby number two. ‘Charlie and I are expecting another little baby in the new year.’ she later noted on social media. Congratulations.

Rewind RIP

2018 saw us say farewell to many wonderful people, and December sadly was no exception. It was final applause for actress June Whitfield, a goodbye to jazz singer Nancy Wilson, an until we meet again for Buzzcocks singer Pete Shelley.

This month we also parted with Coronation Street actor Peter Armitage, actor Jer O’Leary, former Wolves captain Bill Slater, ex-Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown, nun and television art expert Sister Wendy Beckett, RTÉ actor Dónall Farmer and stateside actress Sondra Locke.


Picture of the Month: Corrie’s Sue Nicholls

You just have to love Sue Nicholls as Audrey in Coronation Street. Now a much-loved part of the regular cast, she’s been ‘hm-ing’ (RIP Martyn Hett) her way through scripts since 1979. But Sue isn’t one to take storylines lightly, she clearly likes to make sure Audrey is a fully formed true-to-life character. Speaking to Whats On TV, she recalled her distaste to a planned storyline way back in 2000:

“There was something pitched to me years ago – and I am talking years ago – that maybe Audrey was going home and drinking a lot. It’s a bit true to life actually! And Gail and the family would ask if she was lonely. But I didn’t agree with it. I asked: ‘Why do you think that just because she goes home on her own, she’s lonely and needs to drink? Not necessarily!”

The actress who began her television performing career way back in 1964 on ATV’s daily saga Crossroads, continued:

‘To be honest, I can’t get wait to get home and plonk on the sofa, and yes, pour the rosé. But it’s not because I’m depressed. It’s because I think: ‘How wonderful, they’re all gone!’ I tried to pitch it back to them that I didn’t want to play a drunk, forlorn little thing. It is nice that they went the other way.”

Fans of Audrey can of course get currently two eras of the Weatherfield wonder, with current episodes on ITV every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and classic Corrie airing daily on ITV3. These latter episodes take us at the moment back to 1991 when the character was married to Alf or as she called him ‘Alfie Luv’ and the pair were king and queen of the corner shop.

Extra Quickies

>A couple more quickies because its been a bumper month of news that I grabbed to hold in my own Rewind. It was good news for Robbie Williams, but not so great for Jimmy Page, as the press reported that Robbie has been granted permission to build an underground swimming pool at his Kensington home after five-year planning disagreement with Jimmy Page. Page had been troubled by the plans, not that he doesn’t want Robbie to have a swim deep underground, but that the work needed to take place may harm his Grade-I listed nearby home.

>EastEnders, Holby City and Casualty boss Oliver Kent is to leave the role, Digital Spy reported. Kent has spent the last two years as Head of Continuing Drama which also takes in overseeing Doctors and River City.‘Kent has decided to leave the organisation to explore new opportunities.’ the website noted. Oliver joined the Beeb in 1996 moving up from production level into management.

>Sticking with EastEnders and some of you, like us, will be old enough to remember when it was worth watching. Now UKTV viewers have placed “Dirty Den” Watts issuing Angie Watts with divorce papers on Christmas Day the most dramatic Christmas TV moment of all time (64%). 30 Million (that includes the repeats, not just the first screening) watched as Den said get lost to his boozy-over-excited wife. Only Fools and Horses came in a close second, securing 61% of the public vote, with their unforgettable 1996 festive episode where brothers, Del Boy and Rodney Trotter finally made their fortunes, becoming millionaires with the sale of an old pocket watch. 


Tony Warren Drama Bursary announced for 2019

“Tony experienced the hardships facing young, talented students from the north who were desperately seeking training and recognition in London. It’s wonderful to see his dream realised, I’m grateful for Noreen’s unfailing support and to everyone at ITV who helped make this happen.” – Ex-Coronation Street Producer, Carolyn Reynolds

ITV this month revealed the inaugural recipient of the Tony Warren Drama Student Bursary as Florence Dobson from Ulverston, Cumbria. Florence began her training on the BA (Hons) in Acting at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) this September and is already fast becoming ‘one to watch’.

The ITV Tony Warren Bursary will choose a student from the NW each year and support them throughout their drama training. For full details and how to apply for the ITV Tony Warren Drama Student Bursary go to:  http://itvresponsibility.com/news/itv-studios-launches-drama-school-bursary/

“Florence has excelled in her first term at RADA. She brings warmth, openness, vitality and generosity to her work and is an outstanding company member. Her energy and positivity make her a joy to work with and have yielded evident results in the short time she has been training. It will be exciting to watch her journey through the course – she has a bright future, and we’re delighted that she has been awarded the first bursary in this new scheme to support her through the next three years.” – Lucy Skilbeck, Director of Actor Training at RADA

The television creative genius that was Tony Warren.

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